We should always be suspicious when someone who writes, thinks, and speaks for a living opines on how lazy people are.
The Day, in their July 3rd edition, published a piece by professional writer and pundit Cal Thomas entitled “Getting Paid Not to Work Is Addictive.“
In it, he laments that human nature leads people to be lay about, taking advantage of enhanced unemployment to indolently bum around at home. He paints in your mind a lazy laggard who drinks and plays video games as the rest of us hard working folk put money in their bank account.
Nice story. Too bad it is mostly fictitious, and largely classist. The reality is that working is expensive.
When my daughter was in daycare, it cost $270 per week. That’s for one child.
Minimum wage in Connecticut is $12 per hour, which means that a 40 hour week pays $480. That assumes that you can get 40 hours, which you probably can’t.
Take out $270 for childcare, and now you’ve got $210 left. That’s before taking taxes, the cost of getting to and from work, and all the other costs of working. Can you live on $150/week? Didn’t think so.
In his article, Thomas pontificates, “It makes one wonder what happened to…the ‘work ethic’ when work was seen as a noble.”
Perhaps what happened is that work became less noble when wages remained stagnant for 40 years while the cost of living rose. Maybe it’s that workers are treated like replaceable cogs, liabilities rather than assets, due to misguided “lean business” philophies.
Or it could be that the concept of “work ethic” has always been an idea propagated by those who profit from cheap and abundant labor to convince people to work long hours, exhaust themselves too much to think, then sooth their fatigue with consumerism.
I know quite a few millionaires. None of them work more than 40 hours a week. Most of them less than 20. They deploy their resources efficiently, leverage connections, and find the places where their time most efficiently converts into money.
Anyone can do what they do, but it takes time and energy to learn to do it, to make a plan to do it, and to actually do it. Someone who is struggling to figure out how to pay the rent on $150 per week has neither time nor energy.
However, what happens when that person is given the time and the space to decompress, think, and explore? They start to discover opportunities that they were never aware of before. They find that they can start a business. They find jobs that pay considerably more than what they were settling for. They may even find that, net of childcare and other expenses, it makes more sense to be a single income household.
What would this look like in the macroeconomic numbers? Lower labor force participation, higher wages, more business starts. Just like we are seeing right now.
Covid support didn’t make people lazy. It made them creative. Maybe if Mr. Thomas got away from his computer and did some real work once in a while, he’d see that.
Michael Whitehouse is a motivational speaker, mindset coach, connector, and he helps people make a living by avoiding miserable, soul crushing work. If you’re interested in how you could shift from survival work to thriving work, set up a complimentary coaching session.